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Sinking

Turns out 5+ inches of rain with leaf wetness for 96 straight hours will really do a number on the garden. Zucchini=done for now. I have another planting but it will be a while. Cukes are on their way out already (again we have another late planting due in early September). At least the main block of tomatoes are circling the drain as well, though the cherry tomatoes seem to be faring better as April picked 70 pints over the last two days. I do have a bonus row of tomatoes far from the other tomatoes, so maybe we’ll get a good haul from them.

Tomatoes are the lifeblood/cash cow/bread and butter/moneymaker of farms in the summer, even moreso for this farm as we really specialize in them. In fact, tomatoes alone can make or break a season. I’m putting as much stuff in the ground as I can to try to mitigate the losses I am expecting so hopefully all those lettuces, spinach, carrots and beets I just seeded like all this rain more than the tomatoes do!

The good news is the farm is still standing after 5 inches of rain and with my crew on vacation during the busiest time of the year – there’s really only way to go from here I hope! Really though somehow we have tons of amazing veggies coming in so stock up. I even found a little treat out in the winter squash/flint corn food jungle!

Veggies Ordering and Pickup Procedures:

Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. Don’t forget your egg cartons! We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Heatstroke

So this has been happening. Yay, high tunnel finally up! And yet there is still a delay to add to the unbelievable saga. This latest one being the manufacturer forgot to send a key part, so the high tunnel installers went back home to VT and will come back to “skin” (put the plastic covering on) whenever they’re free next (after the part comes in). So, almost there!
After the high tunnel installers went home Thursday afternoon, I passed out hard for an hour or two. Apparently Paddy Rose was in the room playing and probably even poking me but I was completely unconscious. According to my weather app, it topped 100 degrees for the first 3 days of the install. The installers literally left different colors than when they got here, as they don’t seem to believe in sun block. Being from Vermont, they haven’t experienced heat like that but it seems to be par for the course this summer down here. And then that rain Wednesday night – wowza! It rained so hard it took out my new tent, which I had up so the installers didn’t die of heat stroke. And more rain rain rain?! What a week!
I feel like I’ve said that far too many times this season. I’m not sure what happened – I had such high quality of life expectations going into this season but I’ve been pretty much fully absorbed by one catastrophe after another and have abandoned my poor 7-month pregnant wife to the terrors of a potty training 2 year old! Unfortunately it’ll only get worse for the next 10 days as half of the crew I’ve pieced together will be away. Next week is just April and me during the busiest time of the year! On the bright side, the harvest is coming in strong if we can keep up. Hopefully we can even get some stuff in the ground this week so there’s just as great of a harvest in the fall!
Tomatoes are coming in in buckets. Many buckets. In fact, I think all buckets and yellow tomato bins are full currently. Time to get your saucing done so you can enjoy the taste of a fully ripened Potter Hill summer heirloom tomato all winter long. Bulk pricing for more than 10 pounds, and I am happy (thrilled even) to find a time for you to get them if you can’t make the Monday window hours.
Veggies Ordering and Pickup Procedures:

Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. Don’t forget your egg cartons! We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Tomato Time 2018

We went from just a few tomatoes trickling in to OMG I have to pick day and night to keep up! It seems early and so I looked back and I used the same “Tomato Time” subject line two weeks later last season. Unfortunately I don’t think this means tomato season will be extended by two extra weeks. Quite the opposite. The bottom tomato leaves are dying off already, indicating early blight (not the devastating one) is enjoying all this rain. My prediction is we’ll have an intense tomato harvest that will pretty much wrap up by the end of August – very unlike our usual late October/early November tomato finish.

Objectively, we grow the BEST tasting cherry tomatoes. But because they’ve been selected for their flavor rather than their portability, their skin is super thin and they burst right open at the mere thought of rain drops falling on them (tomatoes absorb water). Plus we pick them ripe instead of picking them green and gassing them so they turn ripe. Earlier this week, with a pretty intense t-storm headed directly at us as observed on the radar…and the rumbling…and the lightning, I did what any farmer would do – grabbed my tomato bin and picked like I’ve never picked before. Must save cherry tomatoes! I got one side picked before I had to go back for another bin. Meanwhile the sky turned black and I decided a few more pints of tomatoes just wasn’t worth it. Plus, I get to eat the splits right off the plant so it’s really not all bad. As long as the plants dry out between now and when I see you, there will be cherries for all! And definitely plenty of heirlooms to boot!

This is a meat week. Happy animals make the best meat, and Jeff grows raises some of the happiest animals in the Northeast! Please support his work, it’s not at all easy.  Here’s a list of what he has available, including 15 different types of handmade sausage! Email him directly with orders at jeff@shortcreeknh.com and you can pick it up at the normal time at the farm.

Veggies Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Resilience

One word keeps running through my head this week. Resilience. And not the resilience of your favorite farmer, though I’m feeling quite resilient meself after this week! Still, our plants are far more resilient than I am. We have to be approaching double digit rainfall over the last 10 days. After such a long period of drought, the plants have to be wondering what a strange world they’ve been born into. Despite all the wacky weather, the worst the plants are showing is a small uptick in fungal diseases. Fungal diseases, like the yellowing leaves creeping up your tomato plants, spread when the plant’s leaves are wet….which has been pretty much all day and night lately!

Plants like tomatoes and beans really shouldn’t pick while the leaves are wet for that reason. Typically we can just wait and pick them the next day. But it just keeps raining. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY! A number of times I’ve tried to take advantage of a break in the rain, just to be thwarted by a big storm as soon as I get out there to pick. I just wish I had a high tunnel that could counter this zany weather and keep me and the plants dry! Pretty obvious segue right?

There’s a chance – if it ever stops raining – that the high tunnel will (finally) be going in next week! I met a new friend with a swiss army knife excavator (a very good friend to have). He removed all the rocks (err boulders) out of the way of the ground posts, leveled the area, and dug out and hooked up a frost-free water line out to the site. It wasn’t cheap, but it’ll be short money if I’m harvesting fresh greens in December! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, so many great veggies coming in. And the color! If you want to eat healthy, forget all the stupid diet rules. Eat the rainbow folks, and I’m not referring to skittles.

Still looking for that special someone that can come in and work their butt off through the end of the season. If that sounds like anyone you know, send them my way.

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Help Wanted!

And I don’t just mean help wanted eating all these delicious vegetables! If farming is your thing, your offspring’s thing, your neighbor’s thing, or your second cousin’s thing….or you want it to be your thing, please be in touch. Lane is leaving for greener pastures, so I am in need of someone starting August 1st, preferably someone who can finish out the season into November. But I’m open to whatever help I can get! Think this through for a minute. Instead of paying ME to grow your vegetables, I will pay YOU to grow your own vegetables. Though I don’t want to romanticize it – the work is as taxing as you probably think  it is, times 10. Free veggies, no need for a gym membership, and I can guarantee you will sleep well at night – what more could you ask for in a job!?

We do also need help eating all these veggies! After a slow start, everything seems early this season. There will be a few field-grown heirloom tomatoes for sale (what?!), as well as a few cherry tomato half-pints. Still not enough for me to make available on the website though. Rainbow carrots will be available in limited quantities. So that everyone can have a taste of the rainbow, I’m limiting them to one per person. Beans also are a newcomer to the list, although also limited quantities. Not limited are those incredible cucumbers – literally every time I eat one I’m surprised at how good it is…and I don’t even like cucumbers generally! And basil, basil, basil – it’s time to put up lots of pesto so you can enjoy it all winter long like we do. If you want to order basil in bulk, please reply to this email. Order away, go bananas!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Early Abundance

As you can see, my girls are back! It sure was nice catching up on the farm while Jenni and Paddy Rose were away, but the farm/house just wasn’t right without them. We’re actually trying a little experiment in July of having me watch PR one day a week again. Starting this week! I’ve always watched her for a day or two in the winter, and it was a personal goal at the start of the season to have the time throughout the season….but things got away from me for a bit. We’ll see how it goes! Watching her seed some microgreen peas made it all worth it, but boy is it exhausting. I could work outside for 12 straight hours in 95 degrees without food or water and not be as tired as I was when I put her down for a blissful 2 hour nap on Thursday. Speaking of blissful, cheese from Couet Farm is finally back available for order!
Maybe it’s overconfident stupidity, but I felt pretty comfortable taking the day “off” because the garden looks fantastic. Get your abundance while it lasts! I know we’re in a bit of a lull with most everything planted in the ground and the summer veggies yet to really come in in buckets (literally), but the tomatoes and cucumbers are trellised, I’ve set up about 90% of a rough irrigation system (rain sure would be nice), and we just hand weeded the entire garden. And yet, the to do list is a mile long with the priorities being FINISHING the irrigation, pruning the tomatoes so we can actually see the ripening fruit, prepping the new high tunnel site, and doing something about those pesky groundhogs!
My current confidence does cause me to pause as I distinctly remember the same feeling going into September last year. And then it didn’t rain for the entire month. We ended up limping through the homestretch. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself, though it sure has been dry lately…

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Relief!

Finally, some relief! Much needed rain and an incredible sleeping night after such miserable (in this farmer’s opinion) weather…although it does seem to have inspired some of our heat loving crops. Cherry tomatoes at the start of July? Seems early but I’ll have to look back at pictures. I doubt there will be enough to sell on Monday, but there’s loads of other great stuff!  Jenni and Paddy Rose are in Ohio again visiting the grandparents, so I’m taking advantage of every minute of daylight to catch up out in the field. Helping me catch up is a friendly face you may recognize if you’re a longtime customer or longtime resident of Grafton. It’s been amazing to have Sophie back, even if it’s only for a couple days. She even offered to write the rest of the newsletter this week when I mentioned I forgot last night….

It’s been about 3 years since I’ve gotten my hands dirty in the soil at Potter Hill. Working at this farm during and after university was, (cliché yet true) life changing for me – I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before, became stubborn and persistent in the most positive ways possible, and realized that I can figure things out myself. It has been so special to me to come back and volunteer for a couple of days and see the evolution that Potter Hill Farm has undergone since I’ve been gone. The varieties of produce! The chickens! Officially an organic farm! A CSA with excited and involved members! New barn and field spaces! More young people who want to farm! Thank you, thank you for supporting Paul and this farm as it continues to grow in size and character. This place is close to my heart, and if it hasn’t made it close to yours yet too, it will be soon.

Love, Newsletter Guest Writer Sophie Dennis

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Dreams of October

So that’s a new one. My weather app has a warning scrolling across the top – Excessive Heat Watch. Excessive indeed, who’s controlling the weather these days!? You all can stop your rain dances and start doing your ’80s dances. I’m not talking about The Moonwalk or The Carlton, I’m talking the ‘no one and certainly no plants like 97 degrees so please stay in the 80s’ dance! In case you don’t watch the forecast incessantly like I do, today started the first of 9 straight days it’s going to be in the 90s.
While my mom was here, she reminded me I used to LOVE the heat, but that was when I was chained to my desk in an overly air conditioned cubicle. I guess I wanted to intensely experience the outdoors in the few minutes a day they allowed me to walk around. In fact, I’d go out and run when the temps hit triple digits while I was living in DC.
Not anymore though, I’m more of an October guy now than a July guy. Not too hot, not too cold. 2-3 layers in the morning and just a t-shirt by the afternoon. That said, I do love me sum summer veggies – cherry tomatoes incoming in a few weeks! These last few days of rain have been perfect and the garden looks AMAZING. We’re hauling in tons of good veggies now – order via this link. We’ll see how the plants adapt and react to 97. They’re hardier than I am, for sure, but that’s some down right excessive heat!
Jeff is coming down on Monday to join the 90s party. Load up for your 4th of July barbecues – here’s a list of what he has available. Email him directly with orders at jeff@shortcreeknh.com.
Please note the preferred earlier order cutoff time this week below because of the heat!
Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.
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Rain Dance

Wow – this is the second newsletter this season I’ve started with “Wow”. But WOW…my big week is almost over. Paddy Rose turned 2 on Wednesday and we had tons of little ones over on Father’s Day to celebrate her birthday! Monday was a harvest day, my parents flew in late Tuesday to further spoil our now 2-year old, Wednesday was the first Grafton Market of the season, my wife left yesterday morning for a conference until Sunday (Paddy Rose’s first time away from mom for more than a night), we prepped all day today for my inaugural CSA pickup, and we’ll start harvesting at sunup today for the first CSA of the season! That said, so far so good, but I am definitely looking forward to the week being over.

I held a lot of veggies back from the first Grafton market to make sure I have enough for the CSA, so it was a small sales day for me. But it was an awesome day regardless. I kind of inherited coordinating the market committee this year (because I don’t have enough to do already) – it was a lot of working building up to Opening Day, but it was worth it alone to see half of Grafton (and all of Grafton’s 1-10 year olds) enjoying some outdoor time.

There will be zucchini on Monday, although it’s unclear if we’ll have tons or just a few baby zukes so it’s first come first serve! It all depends on how well y’alls rain dances are. I’m depending on you to ensure it actually rains the the next two days, so dance your hearts out! Despite the dry weather in a particularly crucial time for the plants to establish themselves, I have to say the garden looks really good and I’m optimistic for a fantastic season ahead. I remember also being extremely bullish at the start of September last season, and then the overhead sprinklers shut off for a month and a half. It did of course eventually start raining again and we limped through the fall. Such is the life of a farmer!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Groundhog Day

Happy Father’s Day to all you Fathers out there! I’m taking a break from chasing groundhogs around (second favorite activity only behind chasing chickens) to give you a quick farm update. Everything is growing great…that is covered, unpalatable, or out of reach of groundhogs. It’s become so bad that last week we planted lettuce in the morning and came back after lunch to plant cucumbers. Much to our consternation, the whole lettuce row had already been taken out by those cute, fuzzy, malicious and evil creatures.

I’ve never had much of a problem with them before, but the writing was on the wall – I’ve been trying to coexist with a family of them that lived behind the barn for a couple years now. Well, nature has run its course and it seems they’ve become a bigger, hungrier, evil extended family. Of course my garden butts right up to a hedgerow absolutely infested in poison ivy and rocks galore, so there’s no eliminating their habitat. And I’m too much of a softie to eliminate them, so I’m building Fort Knox up here on the hill. To simply pick a head of lettuce, last count there were 2 fence chargers I had to turn off, 5 fences I had to step over (you can see them if you look closely), and then remove the cover off the lettuce. On the bright side, I have become more limber stepping over tall fences 800 times per day. Down side is that I’m SO over these groundhogs. I just want my gorgeous, uncovered lettuce back!

That said, we have TONS of lovely (covered) lettuce with your name on it. Scallions are new to the list, and are incredible right now – they’re so tall they’re hitting the cover above them, but still as tender as the day they were germinated. Order away and don’t forget the egggggs!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.